Prospectuses 2011-2012
Radboud universityProspectusesFaculty of Science > Bachelor Natuur- en Sterrenkunde

Interstellar Medium  

Course ID
third quarter
Teaching methods
  • 16 hrs lecture
  • 16 hrs problem session
  1. The student is familiar with the basic components of the interstellar medium
  2. The student understands the main physical processes at play in the interstellar medium
  3. The student knows the most important observational methods and techniques
  4. The student can calculate physical parameters of the interstellar gas from observational results
The interstellar medium (ISM) is the matter that occupies the enormous volume in between the stars of a galaxy. The ISM consists of gas and dust, permeated by magnetic fields and highly energetic cosmic rays. All these components are in continuous and complex interaction.
Stars are born from interstellar gas and dust clouds, and at the end of their lives return much of their matter back into the ISM, for instance in supernova explosions. From this matter, new stars arise. Therefore, the ISM is a crucial part of the cycle of star formation and the galactic ecosysteem. The properties and evolution of galaxies in general are a result of the interplay between the stars and the ISM. The signatures of the complex and delicate interactions are present in the interstellar medium, which therefore can tell us about the past, present and future of a galaxy.
This course presents the various phases and components of the interstellar medium, and its most important physical processes. A number of observational methods to study the ISM will be discussed using the newest results. Emphasis will be on the Milky Way, but other nearby galaxies will be considered as well.
Schriftelijk plus opgaven
Obligatory and recommended literature will be announced later.